Warm Fuzzy Trading Game


Three paper bags with symbols (triangle, circle, square) on them

Markers to mark the kids hand

A lot of small fuzzy craft balls or chips of 5 different colors

A poster detailing which color gets which points

Purple: 5 points each, 5 total=30 points

Blue: 4 points each, 5 total=25 points

Green: 3 points each, 5 total=20 points

Black: 2 points each, 5 total=15 points

Pink: 1 points each, 5 total=10 points

Gold fuzzys are saved until the near end: 10 points each, each group gets three


Each symbol is a different “class”. The triangle refers to the lowest “economic” class (those with the least amount of points). Therefor in each bag separate out the color chips accordingly. The triangle bag will be mostly pink, some black and green, very few blue if any. The circle bag will have a few pinks, mostly black and green, and some blue. The Square bag will have mostly purple, blue and green, no pink and very few if any black. There should be some Betreuers that will be the Polizei during the game. Two Betreuers are needed to explain the game before hand and control the time and debriefing. All the rest of the Betreuers are to enforce the rules during the trading sessions and watch over the jail.

Game Play:

Separate the kids into three groups. Each group receives a Polizist with their groups’ symbol. Care should be taken that the kids are mixed well when initially separated. Each kid gets their groups’ symbol drawn on their right hand. They can then choose blindly from the bag 5 balls/chips. The chips should be kept secret. Betreuers should then explain the point system. Have the kids arrange themselves around the room in order of highest to lowest point total from the stuff they have in their hand.

Point out who has the highest points and who has the lowest. Also point out the differentiation of points based on symbols.

Next, explain the trading how the trading session will go. There are only five rules.

1.You can trade with anyone you want (nonverbal communication can be used to signal you want to trade with a certain person)

2.You can only trade when your hands are clasped

3.You can only talk when your hands are clasped (the kids should be silent until they clasp hands)

4.If you don’t want to trade cross your arms

5.The Polizei are enforcing the rules and will send you to jail if you break one

There is then time for any questions to clarify the rules. Possible questions:

What if you can’t reach an agreement with the other person? You then have to keep your hands clasped until the end of the trading session

Is there a goal? No (the kids will eventually develop their own goals, this is discussed during the debriefing session)

Can you still trade with others if you use your other hand? No, only one hand can initiate a trade.

Start the 3 minute trading session. Polizei go around and make sure no one is talking without their hands clasped. Jail-able offenses are: talking without holding someones hand, not speaking German (depending on the age level), dropping their balls/chips, letting go of someones hand without reaching an agreement. The Polizei should focus more on watching and jailing triangles and less on the squares. The kids are released at the end of the trading session.

After the first training session have the kids line up again in order of highest to lowest. Ask who has the highest/lowest amount of points. It is possible that kids will have 0 points. That is fine. Figure out how to divide the group in three based on point total. Example: highest total is 60 lowest total is 0 triangles are 20 points and fewer, squares are 40 points and higher, circles are everyone in between. Have the Polizei go around and change peoples’ symbols if they are in a new group.

The “square group worked so hard to earn their points” and because of that they get to create one new rule. Those with squares on their hands get 3 minutes to come up with one new rule. It can be anything. Then the rule is enforced immediately if it’s a tax or during the next trading session if it is excluding certain people from doing something.

Another 3 minute trading session happens; at the end the kids arrange themselves again in order of highest-lowest. The symbols are changed if needed. The squares get to make up a new rule. This continues for a while. At some point after the symbols have been changed, but before a new rule is made, give each group 3 special gold ball/chips. Each is worth 10 points and the groups have to figure out a way to divide the balls/chips in their groups. It doesn’t matter how.

There is then one last rule from the squares. Then one or two more trading sessions. At the end the groups should move into a debriefing session.


-To make it an immigration simulation have one group that enters late and is not explained the rules. They are all triangles and receive balls/chips from the triangle bag. They then have to figure out the rules.

Debriefing questions:

What was going on? What strategies did you use? Did you have a goal develop? How might this be like real life? What kind of emotions did you feel? Were these emotions connected with the groups you were in? What did the squares do with their power? What did the label (square, circle, triangle) do to people? Was their cheating? Who was policed and got caught the most? How did each group feel?

Points of Interest:

-kids were trying not to change their group from high to low

-some kids might give up

-we didn't tell them a goal but it became a capitalist system

-this game represents the class system/disadvantage immigrants have

-the advantages some people had

-each group started with different resources

-people who came in late represent immigrants and were immediately put in the triangle group and did not know the rules